See More on Facebook

Economics, Politics

Malaysian PM Mahathir unveils economic plan for all races

The plan was unveiled at the first anniversary of the Pakatan Harapan government.


Written by

Updated: May 10, 2019

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Thursday (May 9) unveiled a new plan to achieve sustainable and equitable economic growth by 2030, amid gripes that his year-old Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration has not set clear policies for the country’s development.

The new initiative, tagged “Shared Prosperity”, replaces the now-unachievable Vision 2020 target, which was for Malaysia to become a developed nation by next year .

“Shared Prosperity is an effort to turn Malaysia into a country that continues to develop sustainably alongside equitable growth at all levels of the value chain, class, race and geography till there exists harmony and stability among the people by 2030,” Tun Dr Mahathir said in his televised address on Thursday to mark PH’s one year anniversary in government.

In his speech the 93-year-old leader also touched on the National Economic Policy (NEP), the country’s affirmative action policy that favours the majority Bumiputera community, saying measurements of development and prosperity today are more complex than the NEP’s benchmarks of eradicating poverty and raising equity participation.

According to Sunway University economics professor Yeah Kim Leng, this signals a shift to a more redistributive and inclusive development strategy that does not fixate on income growth or a particular group.

“It is compatible with the NEP, with the difference being that all races are included in the recognition that wealth disparity within ethnic groups, as opposed to between ethnic groups, is the new narrative of the year-old government,” said Dr Yeah.

In an earlier press conference with foreign media, Dr Mahathir had said his government would focus on the economy in its second year, after tackling corruption in its first year.

“The fact is the previous government was totally corrupt. There is very little corruption now. People can do business with the government now without paying extra. That is a very important achievement that contributes towards the stability of the economy,” he said.

He also told foreign media that he will not see out the full term of five years and will step aside after fixing problems his coalition claims it inherited from the former Barisan Nasional government exactly a year ago.

Although the coalition had agreed prior to last year’s election that Dr Mahathir would hand over the reins to nemesis-turned-ally Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who had yet to be pardoned from a controversial sodomy conviction then, no timeline was formally agreed.

Those aligned to Mr Anwar, who was sacked as deputy premier in 1998 by Dr Mahathir and then jailed, insist that the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president should take over the post in a year.

PM Mahathir told the foreign media: “We will make most of the corrections within a period of two years, and after that I think the others will have less problems to face.”

When pressed on whether he meant two years in power or from now, he replied: “I don’t know whether it is three years or two years, but I am an interim prime minister.”

PH leaders have claimed that the ousted Barisan Nasional (BN), which Dr Mahathir led for 22 years up to 2003, had left behind RM1.1 trillion (S$360 billion) in government liabilities, with several overpriced deals in the offing, such as the now renegotiated East Coast Rail Link and postponed High-Speed Rail to Singapore.

The government has also in recent months dedicated more than RM23 billion to bailing out land development authority Felda and Muslim pilgrimage fund Tabung Haji, important institutions for the Malay majority.

“The key challenge is to restore the image of this country. We have a lot of people taking potshots at us, including the press and now social media, because they see us as a target,” Dr Mahathir added.

“We have to do something, and when you do something you expose ourselves to criticism. We must take action against miscreants who stole money from the government. Of course, some people are not very happy, because they thought they can get away with their misdeeds.”

However, Dr Mahathir also sought to temper expectations by saying some election pledges could not be fulfilled due to financial constraints and the need for constitutional amendments.

“For that we need two-thirds majority (in Parliament). We need the support of the opposition,” he said of some reforms aimed at decentralising power from the premier and correcting biased election maps.

PH claims these were abused by the previous prime minister Najib Razak.

PH had also promised several economic benefits, such as abolishing tolled highways, but now finds the Treasury incapable of buying out the billion-dollar concessions.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


About the Author: The Straits Times is Singapore's top-selling newspaper.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Economics, Politics

Pro-junta bloc says it’s ready to form a government

The group claims deal with Democrats, Bhumjaithai parties. The Pro-Junta Phalang Pracharat Party claimed to have successfully cobbled together a coalition that could form a new government with the participation of the Democrat and Bhumjaithai parties, a source from the major coalition partner said yesterday. Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha will again head the post-election administration, with many members of his current post-coup Cabinet joining him, including General Prawit Wongsuwan, General Anupong Paochinda, Somkid Jatusripitak and Wissanu Krea-ngam, according to the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. However, it remained unclear if Prayut would also double as defence minister or allow Prawit to assume the post again in addition to the deputy PM’s post. Phalang Pracharath will get at least 16 Cabinet seats and the Democrats and Bhumjaith


By The Nation (Thailand)
May 20, 2019

Economics, Politics

Jakarta on edge ahead of protests against election results

The opposition has yet to yield and admit defeat. Indonesia is on edge following plans by an Islamist group to hold a two-day rally at the elections commission (KPU) on Tuesday (May 21), to protest the impending results of last month’s presidential polls. The call for Muslims to throng the streets around the KPU headquarters in downtown Jakarta has been circulating on social media at the weekend – just before Wednesday’s deadline for the official vote count to be completed. The rally organisers, who identified themselves as Persaudaraan Alumni 212, are calling the mass gathering a “constitutional Jihad”, according to publicity material seen by The Straits Times on Sunday (May 19).


By The Straits Times
May 20, 2019

Economics, Politics

Exit polls show Narendra Modi’s coalition set to return to power

Most pre-election surveys had suggested that India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi would return to power. Exit polls predicted Prime Minister Narendra Modi will return to power in a landslide win as curtains came down on the largest democratic exercise in the world. Voters in 59 constituencies voted on Sunday (May 19), ending the seven-phase elections in which 900 million people were eligible to vote. At least four exit polls, which were released half an hour after the voting ended, showed between 286 to 306 seats for the alliance led by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). They pr


By The Straits Times
May 20, 2019

Economics, Politics

Blip on Modi’s social media, communications radar

Has Modi’s social media policy backfired. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s attempts to ‘humanise’ himself over the past 10 days or so seem to have boomeranged. At least on social media. For a politician who has championed the use of social media platforms and integrated them into his communications strategy to gain direct access to the people without the “filter” of intermediaries, that’s saying something.  Modi refused to hold even a single Press conference through his five-year tenure as PM and keeping professional media at arm’s length.  But he went on an interview spree in the past fortnight aimed at reaching out to voters in the last two phases of India’s weeks-long general election. Informal, one-on-one interactions with leading television anchors and editors of m


By Ishan Joshi
May 20, 2019

Economics, Politics

Bangladeshis will be richer than Indians by 2030

This according to a new report by Standard Chartered bank. Bangladeshis will be richer than Indians by 2030 as the country’s per capita income will grow nearly four times throughout the 2020s, according to Standard Chartered — in yet another endorsement of its tremendous growth momentum. The per capita income of Bangladesh will rise to $5,734.6 in 2030. India’s will edge up to $5,423.4 after growing less than three times, according to a research note from Madhur Jha, Standard Chartered India’s head of thematic research, and David Mann, the bank’s global chief economist. Last year, Bangladesh’s per capita income stood at $1,599.8 and India’s $1,913.2. The note highlights the economies around the world that are likely to grow the fastest in the 2020s. The threshold for the list is 7 percent, the approximate growth rate at which an economy can double in size every 10 years.


By Daily Star
May 17, 2019

Economics, Politics

China vows action as US moves to blacklist Huawei

Hopes of a trade deal recede as experts fear American companies could face a backlash. China has slammed the United States for putting technology giant Huawei on an export blacklist and said it will take “all necessary measures” to protect the legal rights of Chinese firms. The latest twist in the face-off between the US and China not only suggests that hopes of a trade deal are fast evaporating, but it could also delay the roll-out of 5G networks worldwide. US technology firms could also face a backlash, experts said. China’s Ministry of Commerce said yesterday that it resolutely opposed any coun


By The Straits Times
May 17, 2019